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ADDED ON: 05/27/2018

Lebanon LGBT Scene Empowered Despite Crackdown

05/27/2018 | ABC News

It took him more than two months to prepare, coming up with the concept, assembling his outfit and rehearsing. Then on the big night, a five-hour session putting on makeup. The very last step, he slid on the red lace gloves with 4-inch (10-centimeter) red fingernails that he had specially ordered from the United States. Elias was transformed into Melanie Coxxx. She was ready for her most important show: The largest drag ball in Lebanon. Because this is Lebanon, where homosexuality and dressing as the opposite gender are against the law, he sat in the back of his mother’s car with darkened windows, a scarf over his head, for the drive from his home just outside Beirut to the club. That didn’t unnerve Coxxx. Elias says his character, inspired by transgender actress and activist Laverne Cox, is “fearless.” “She is the person that makes me more alive, more powerful,” Elias said. “When I put everything on… I take the courage (from her). (She is) guiding me to go out and just perform.”

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